Last week, The Northern Echo ran a poll to select Sunderland’s greatest ever XI. The votes have been counted, and the team is as follows:

The Northern Echo: Goalkeepers

The Northern Echo: Jimmy Montgomery

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Jimmy Montgomery
1961-1977
Appearances: 623
Whether judged in terms of longevity, success or talent, Montogmery deserves his place on any list of Sunderland legends. His tally of 623 appearances remains an all-time record, indeed it puts him more than 170 games clear of his closest rival. His greatest moment came in the 1973 FA Cup final, with his remarkable double save from Trevor Cherry and Peter Lorimer providing one of the all-time great Wembley moments.


The Northern Echo: Defenders

The Northern Echo: Michael Gray

Michael Gray
1992-2004
Appearances: 363
Goals: 16
A born and bred Wearsider, Gray spent more than a decade on Sunderland’s books and was respected as a talented, energetic and skilful left-back. He scored a stunning long-range goal on his first full appearance, and was a perfect example of the modern full-back, equally at home in attack or defence. He overcame the disappointment of missing the decisive penalty in the play-off final defeat to Charlton to force his way into the full England team.


The Northern Echo: Charlie Hurley

Charlie Hurley
1957-1969
Appearances: 401
Goals: 26
Lovingly known as ‘the King’, Hurley is many Sunderland supporters’ idea of the club’s best-ever player. He was elected the club’s ‘Player of the Century’, even though his first season on Wearside ended in relegation. Tall, aggressive and commanding, he was a fearsome centre-half, although he was also respected for his sense of fair play. He skippered the 1964 promotion-winning team and eventually left after 12 seasons on the Wearsiders’ books.


The Northern Echo: Colin Todd

Colin Todd
1966-1971
Appearances: 191
Goals: 3
He might have been an uncompromising centre-half, but Todd was as well known for his skill, speed and pinpoint long-range passing during his five seasons on Sunderland’s books. Born in Chester-le-Street, he forced his way into Sunderland’s first team as a teenager, and made almost 200 appearances in the Second Division. His talent did not go unrecognised though, and he moved on to Derby, where he won the First Division title.


The Northern Echo: Dave Watson

Dave Watson
1970-1975
Appearances: 209
Goals: 33
Remembered as one of Sunderland’s best aerial defenders, Watson spent more than a quarter of his long, successful career with the Wearsiders. He spent the whole of his Sunderland career in the Second Division, but was a key performer in the 1973 FA Cup-winning campaign, with his whole-hearted defensive display helping the club pull off a Wembley shock. By the end of his footballing career, he had made a remarkable 657 league appearances.

The Northern Echo: Midfielders

The Northern Echo: Kevin Ball

Kevin Ball
1990-1999
Appearances: 376
Goals: 25
He might have started his Sunderland career as a central defender, but Ball is best known for his performances as a formidable central midfielder, patrolling the area in front of the back four. A tough-tackling captain who was committed and resolute, his physical strength made him a firm fans’ favourite throughout his career on Wearside. Skipper of the record-breaking First Division champions in 1999, he is still involved with the club behind the scenes.


The Northern Echo: Dennis Tueart

Dennis Tueart
1968-1974
Appearances: 214
Goals: 56
A talented left winger, Tueart boasted an abundance of pace as well as excellent close control and a powerful shot. He was a central figure in the 1973 FA Cup success, appearing in every round of the competition and excelling in the final at Wembley. Perhaps his most famous Sunderland goal came in the club’s first ever European tie, against Vasas Budapest, and he is also remembered for a sensational scissors-kick volley against Oxford United.

Raich Carter
1932-1939
Appearances: 276
Goals: 127
Born in Hendon, Carter was an explosive inside-forward who was rightly regarded as one of the best players in the country for the majority of the 1930s. Having made his league debut as a 19-year-old, by the time he was 24 he had won a League Championship medal, an FA Cup winners’ medal and appeared for England. A superb all-round talent, he skippered Sunderland to victory in the 1937 FA Cup final and also played cricket for Durham CCC.

The Northern Echo: Forwards


Brian Clough
1961-1965
Appearances: 74
Goals: 63
Signed from his hometown Middlesbrough, Clough scored five hat-tricks in his first season in Sunderland colours as he immediately endeared himself to the Roker Park faithful. He had already added another 28 league and cup goals in the first half of the following season before fate intervened to wreck his playing career. Chasing a loose ball into the box against Bury, he suffered a cruciate ligament injury that effectively signalled the end of his playing days.


The Northern Echo: Kevin Phillips

Kevin Phillips
1997-2003
Appearances: 239
Goals: 134
A natural goalscorer who combined speed and finesse with an uncanny knack for being in the right place at the right time, Phillips was a revelation after completing a £325,000 move from Watford in 1997. He scored 35 goals in his first season in a Sunderland shirt, helping the club reach the play-offs, and bagged 23 goals from 26 league games as the following season brought promotion. His 30-goal tally in the 1999-2000 season saw him win the European Golden Boot.


The Northern Echo: Len Shackleton

Len Shackleton
1947-1958
Appearances: 348
Goals: 101
Throughout all their history, Sunderland have not had many players with the wizardry and trickery of ‘Shack’. He was the first footballer to cost more than £20,000 when he moved to Wearside in 1947, and spent ten seasons at Roker Park, playing mainly at inside-left. He was a hugely talented forward – a maverick both on and off the pitch – and helped Sunderland finish in third and fourth position in the First Division.